Western-backed Somalia Federal Government Plagued by Infighting
A car goes up in flames near the scene of a blast in Mogadishu, Somalia on April 14, 2013. Despite claims by the corporate media that the country is stable, the war rages on. by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
A car goes up in flames near the scene of a blast in Mogadishu, Somalia on April 14, 2013. Despite claims by the corporate media that the country is stable, the war rages on., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Somalia stumbles amid infighting ~ 2013-11-28 18:04
Mogadishu – Bitter divisions between Somalia’s top leaders threaten internationally-backed efforts to battle al-Qaeda-linked insurgents and end decades of anarchy in the war-torn nation, experts warn.
Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, who has been in office for just over a year, is facing a confidence vote in parliament this week after he resisted President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s demand that he resign.
The precise cause of the power struggle is unclear, but politicians have pointed to wrangling over alleged corruption, personal loyalties as well as Somalia’s complex clan politics, where each community expects to be represented in the corridors of power.
“The prime minister told us he is at loggerheads with the president over several issues including who should be in cabinet,” said MP Mohamed Yusuf.
The government, which took power in August 2012, was the first to be given global recognition since the collapse of the hardline regime in 1991, and billions in foreign aid has since been poured in.
But fighting over who gets what job appears to have become the number-one priority in a badly fractured country desperately in need of a strong central government and struggling to cast of its image as a failed state.
The political squabbling follows the resignation earlier this month of central bank governor Yussur Abrar – the second to step down during this government – complaining she had been pressurised to sign off on corrupt deals, claims the government denied.
Her predecessor, Abdusalam Omer, resigned his post in September amid accusations by United Nations experts the bank had become a “slush fund” for political leaders with millions of dollars siphoned out, claims that were dismissed by the government.
Sources close to the office of the prime minister claimed the president had barred all central bank signatories – including Shirdon – from withdrawing cash amid widespread allegations of graft.
“International backers are still behind the government because it is effectively the only option, and they do provide a chance to continue the push back against al-Shabaab,” said a Western official.
The al-Qaeda Shabaab rebels still control large swathes of rural Somalia.
The Western official said the optimism that greeted the appointment of the new government is now “being tempered with reality”.
“It is worrying, since they appear more and more to be following the example of their TFG (Transitional Federal Government) predecessors,” the official said.
During the TFG’s eight years in power, progress was stalled by political infighting – with loyalties often aligned along clan lines and development frozen by rampant corruption.
Mogadishu’s government, selected in a UN-backed process in August 2012, was hailed as offering the best chance for peace in a generation.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking in May, said then that the steps forward had “exceeded all expectations”.
But Shabaab insurgents, breakaway regions, rival clans and rampant insecurity have conspired to ensure the Horn of Africa nation remains saddled with its basket case image.
Sources close to Shirdon say the latest power struggle broke out between the president and the prime minister in September following a proposed cabinet reshuffle, with Mohamud apparently furious after Shirdon wanted to sack three of his key allies including the powerful interior minister.
Mohamud demanded Shirdon resign but the prime minster has refused.
“The president won his position by election, while the prime minister was nominated by the president,” said MP Abdirahman Hosh Jibril.
“The decision of the president did not come overnight, we have been asking for change for a long time… the prime minister can still refuse to resign but he should come in front of the parliament.”
Behind-the-scenes efforts by foreign diplomats to broker a deal between the two have so far proved fruitless, and a majority of lawmakers now appear to back the president’s bid to sack the prime minster, but others fiercely oppose it as unconstitutional.
“The president has the power to nominate the prime minister, but does not have a constitutional right to ask for the prime minister to submit his resignation,” said Mohamed Yusuf, another MP.
Shirdon earlier this month confirmed a “rift” with the president, but claimed the argument was related to “constitutional issues not political”, in a statement urging citizens to have “confidence in their leaders and lawmakers… to solve the misunderstanding”.
Parliament speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari has also tried to play down the rift.
“Lawmakers must not exaggerate the issue of the rift between the president and the prime minister,” he told reporters. “All issues must be brought to parliament for discussion before rushing to decisions.”
But without resolution, political divisions could impact efforts to battle Shabaab rebels.
The African Union force that fights alongside government troops is awaiting reinforcements to boost it to some 22 000 soldiers, which is expected to kick-start a long-expected fresh offensive.
US-backed forces of the Somalia Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM enter the town of Wanlaweyn. The Horn of Africa nation is being occupied by imperialism utilizing proxy forces from the region. by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
US-backed forces of the Somalia Transitional Federal Government and AMISOM enter the town of Wanlaweyn. The Horn of Africa nation is being occupied by imperialism utilizing proxy forces from the region., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Somalia and EU Fight over ‘Lack of Aid’ Claims
EXCLUSIVE: Somalia deputy PM Fawzia Yusuf Adam ‘we get nothing’ claim angers EU commissioner.
A diplomatic spat has erupted in Brussels between a high Somali official and the EU commissioner for development over the level of foreign aid given to the wartorn African country.
Fawzia Yusuf Adam, Somalia’s minister of foreign affairs and deputy PM, said that her country had received “nothing from the European Union – only promises”.
Reacting to earlier remarks by Adam, EU commissioner for development Andris Piebalgs told IBTimes UK exclusively: “I’m very upset because that is false.
“The political process starting in Somalia is not only because of political abilities but investment in different parts of Somalia which brings people to support the federal government,” he said during a private meeting at the European Development Days in Brussels.
“We have a substantial development project in parts of Somalia. We disburse nearly €50m and the biggest parts goes to areas such as Somaliland, Puntland, in education, rural development, healthcare, access to water. Lots of money being invested.
“She’s right we don’t channel any money to federal government but that’s because in order to use that you need public finance management and an accountability system and today that’s not the case,” he went on.
“I pledged to work with the government as close as a I can and I will honour it. We bring very substantial support to Somalia, although we don’t channel any money through the government.”
The European Commission provides development aid in Somalia under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF). The total allocation for Somalia for the 2008-13 period is €521m.
The EU support supports Amisom (the African Union Mission in Somalia), which aims to create the conditions for peace and stability, and has channelled €594m into it.
Adam said that Somalia had been pledged €1.8bn in a conference in September but claimed “so far, we have received nothing”.
“We ask European countries to honour their pledge,” she said. “We are looking forward to see that [for it to be] realised for development reconstruction and security.
“During the previous transitional government, €200m was pledged in 2010 but we never received it. We want friends to honour their pledge so that we can build our country.”
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